Skip to main content

Full text of "A history of Persia"

See other formats

134                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                 CHAP.
Tabaran district of Tus.1 .This village I have been
fortunate enough to identify with the modern Paz or
Faz, situated twelve miles to the north of Meshed and
"three or four miles south of Rizan, which is mentioned
below. The poet completed his great epic after a quarter
of a century of work in A.D. 999, and ten years later took
it to the court of Mahmud. Owing to intrigues and
imputations of lack of orthodoxy, the beggarly sum of
twenty thousand dirhems, or less than ^400, was all that
Firdausi was granted, instead of a gold dinar or half guinea
for every couplet, as he was led to expect. In his bitter
disappointment he divided the money between a bathman
and a sherbet-seller, and then fled, in the first place to
Herat and finally to Tabaristan. By way of revenge,
he castigated Mahmud in a satire which in Browne's
translation runs :
Long years this Shaknama I toiled to complete,
That the King might award me some recompense meet,
Hut naught save a heart wrung with grief and despair
Bjiji I get from those promises empty as air !
liad the sire of the King been some Prince of renown,
,!&y forehead had surely been graced by a crown!
Were his mother a lady of high pedigree,
''In silver and gold had I stood to the knee !
But, being by birth, not a prince but a boor,
The praise of the noble he could not endure !
The years passed, and Mahmud was in India, where
he encamped close to a strong fortress held by a rebellious
chief to whom he had despatched an envoy. He remarked
to his Vizier, " I wonder what reply the rebel will have
given." The Vizier quoted :
And should the reply with my wish not accord,
Then Afrasiab's field, and the mace, and the sword!
" Whose verse is that," inquired Mahmud, " for he
must have the heart of a man ?" The Vizier replied that it
latter is to plough the land and to sow the seed, and of the former to water the land.
Both are, on an equality when the harvest is divided, but the Salar is, generally speaking,
the senior^ partner." My Persian friends assure me that Firdausi was a man of quite
humble origin and not originally a landowner, even on a small scale.
1 Fide my  Historical Notes on Khurasan," J.R.d.S.j October 1910. The map
attached to the plan of Tus (Tabaran) shows the various places referred to and gives the
sites of the "twin-cities" of Tabaran and Nokan, which I have identified.